Uriah Oxford is one of the great supporters of the Commander format. You might know him as @CMDRDecks on Twitter or because of his great YouTube channel of the same name. At an event you won’t be able to miss him, with his video camera, bag of Commander decks, and trademark mohawk. He’s another person whose views on the format resonate with my own, and we’ve had good times during the few opportunities we’ve had to play.
The 31-year-old hails from and still lives in Colorado Springs. I’ll let him tell you a little more about himself in his own words:
When I am not playing EDH, thinking about EDH, reading about EDH, and making EDH content I am working or going to school (currently enrolled for a marketing degree since WotC is always hiring for that position). If I get time to play EDH, it is usually at the house of a friend or family. I can be found at J and J Pac N Ship or Petrie’s for league and/or random EDH.
I started playing Magic around Ice Age, I was given a forced break from the game until Torment, and I’ve been playing constantly since. I’ve been playing EDH since the From the Vault: Dragons box set came out with the insert giving directions on how to play. Three of my first four generals were Zur, Rofellos and Memnarch (Eight-and-a-Half-Tails was the other), so obviously I gravitated towards power right away. One of my favorite current decks is an all-commons deck with Jerrard of the Closed Fist; I love taking down tuned and powered decks with commons. My three favorite colors are red, green, and blue, but I do not have a RUG EDH deck.
I’ve been creating Commander deck tech content for almost three years now, and I love the opportunities that it has provided me. I have met some great people, employees of WotC, other members of the EDH/Commander community, and some great friends. The card I least want to see across the table from me while playing EDH is Sorin Markov. The card I most like to see in my hand while playing EDH is Strionic Resonator.
When I was building my mono-white Heliod, God of the Sun deck a few weeks back, I happened to mention that I didn’t think tribal Clerics was viable. Uriah disagreed, and here’s the proof.
- 1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
- 1 Mother of Runes
- 1 Preacher
- 1 Serra Avatar
- 1 Soul Warden
- 1 Songstitcher
- 1 Devoted Caretaker
- 1 Glory
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 True Believer
- 1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
- 1 Eternal Dragon
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Planar Guide
- 1 Glarecaster
- 1 Doubtless One
- 1 Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
- 1 Blazing Archon
- 1 Battletide Alchemist
- 1 Felidar Sovereign
- 1 Kor Sanctifiers
- 1 Transcendent Master
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Grand Abolisher
- 1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
- 1 Angel of Jubilation
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Abeyance
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Journeyer's Kite
- 1 Disenchant
- 1 Planar Portal
- 1 Akroma's Vengeance
- 1 Beacon of Immortality
- 1 Well of Lost Dreams
- 1 Isochron Scepter
- 1 Distorting Lens
- 1 Erratic Portal
- 1 Orim's Chant
- 1 Predator, Flagship
- 1 Karmic Justice
- 1 Tormod's Crypt
- 1 Condemn
- 1 Oblivion Ring
- 1 Idyllic Tutor
- 1 Runed Halo
- 1 Endless Horizons
- 1 Hallowed Burial
- 1 Relic of Progenitus
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Planar Cleansing
- 1 Silence
- 1 Luminarch Ascension
- 1 Leyline of Sanctity
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Norn's Annex
- 1 Strionic Resonator
A few more of Uriah’s own words about the deck first:
There are seventeen Clerics including Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, so some might say it is not as tribal themed as it should be, but the Clerics pull their weight and are in there for specific reasons. This deck is very much one of avoidance of damage and making people want to attack elsewhere as they won’t get much out of attacking me. Then, late game after all the big mana gets online, it can start dropping big threats and give them enough protection with Eight-and-a-Half-Tails that they can end the game quickly from there.
You can hear him talk more about it on his You Tube channel. It’s definitely worth a watch.
Overall, the deck looks good. It seems like it can be pretty social, and it’s certainly not broken. It addresses a few of the problems that mono-white has and does a reasonable job of exploring the tribal theme. In fact, it caused me to rethink the way I address a tribal deck. When I’ve gone tribal in the past, I’ve just piled in all the appropriate cards that fit. For example, my Lord of Tresserhorn deck has no non-Zombie creatures except for Grave Titan, which makes Zombies. Ruric Thar and his Beastly Werewolf Fight Club is devoid of creature types other than Werewolf and Beast.
Uriah’s deck has made me think that I might build good, interesting, and well-themed tribal decks without going all in. There would need to be a minimum—probably fifteen or so—to be able to call it tribal, but we might also consider it tribal if a certain percentage of the creatures fit the tribal theme. If there are only twelve creatures in a deck but eleven of them are Wizards, is it a Wizard deck? Share your thoughts on this in the forums, and I’ll think more on it.
Here’s a breakdown of what I think about the individual cards.
Caged Sun: A card built for monocolor decks. I have a single foil Caged Sun, and I can’t decide which deck will benefit from it most. It’s in Heliod, but then again that’s the only monocolor deck I have at the moment.
Distorting Lens: This card helps make Eight-and-a-Half Tails better and can also be used as a political card. Good choice for low casting cost and free activation.
Erratic Portal: Erratic Portal is so very flexible that I want to put it in more decks than it’s in.
Isochron Scepter: I like Uriah’s narrowly focused Isochron Scepter package. It has solid utility without being really scary.
Journeyer’s Kite: In a color that doesn’t draw cards well, this is kind of draw.
Planar Portal: I was surprised to see this on the list because of the cost, but in the video he says that he gets enough mana to make it useful.
Relic of Progenitus: Graveyard hate is a must-have survival technique for the format. In fact, its inclusion here spawned an article idea about Commander survival techniques, which you’ll probably see in the upcoming weeks.
Sensei’s Divining Top: Uriah knows how to Top. The rule we play by is that you don’t wait to Top until EOT of the person to your right. You Top during the turn of the player to your left, but you reserve the right to change the order of the cards if the board state changes. The time savings are significant, and no one will moan when you drop the Top.
Sol Ring: I frequently wonder about the utility of Sol Ring in monocolored decks, but there is enough colorless here for it to be valuable.
Strionic Resonator: Uriah says it’s his favorite new card. I’ve stuffed it into two or three decks, but I haven’t seen it in play much on my own side or anyone else’s. I know it can create epic situations.
Tormod’s Crypt: Graveyard hate is a thing.
Well of Lost Dreams: You have to try what you can in mono-white to draw cards. The card rules in my Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice deck.
Predator, Flagship: In addition to its obvious use, Predator, Flagship combos with what I think is the Hidden Gem of the deck, Songstitcher.
Duplicant: Some creatures need to get exiled. Duplicant is the Shapeshifter for the job.
Angel of Jubilation: A great card in the color, it shuts down a number of creature strategies while boosting all of your creatures. The three white in the mana cost isn’t onerous since white is the only color.
Battletide Alchemist: The first of our Clerics, I’d worry about its value if I was in a sweeper-happy environment. Otherwise I can imagine that it will lead people to point their attackers in another direction, especially if they get triggers from combat damage. And then you can just prevent it anyway.
Blazing Archon: Speaking of pointing attackers in other directions . . .
Devoted Caretaker: This is an interesting choice. It seems like one of those cards that doesn’t work all that often, but when it does it’s really important that it did.
Doubtless One: Note that it looks at all Clerics on the battlefield, not just your own. The damage trigger definitely makes it worthwhile.
Eternal Dragon: A solid choice that can be a nice mana sink later in the game.
Felidar Sovereign: In general I find "you win the game" cards shrug-worthy. Shrugging here too.
Glarecaster: This card is really mana hungry, but once it is online, it is a superior rattlesnake. If someone forgets you have it and alpha strikes you, it’s going to be a blowout.
Glory: A card that we saw a great deal of in the early days of the format, I’m surprised we don’t see it more now. Having your team all or mostly unblockable—or able to live through Blasphemous Act—is absolutely solid.
Grand Abolisher: I especially like that it’s not here to protect some broken combo.
Kor Sanctifiers: You need enchantment and artifact destruction. Here it is.
Mother of Runes: "Mom" is one of the most popular cards ever. It’s perfect in a "color matters" deck.
Planar Guide: I think the best use of Planar Guide is to eliminate a horde of tokens. Definitely worth the cost.
Preacher: I like Preacher better with available sac outlets so that you can machine gun creatures if you want, but I love Uriah’s nod to the old school.
Serra Avatar: Some of the epic moments of the format’s history have involved Serra Avatar. I suspect that they’ll continue to happen in the future.
Songstitcher: This is the card that made me wonder why I’m not playing it. A great find, it’s able to repeatedly keep the some of the best creatures in the format—like Rith, the Awakener—from dealing damage. So solid.
Soul Warden: I didn’t even realize that it’s a Cleric until I looked at it here.
Suture Priest: For me, this might be an auto-include in all white decks. I try to resist the urge but am currently failing.
Transcendent Master: It obviously takes some time, but 9/9 indestructible and lifelink is nothing to sneeze at.
True Believer: There are many things that target players. In addition to the obvious, like Comet Storm, there are the less obvious like Bojuka Bog and Tormod’s Crypt.
Weathered Wayfarer: Mono-white will likely always be behind at least one player in lands, so I think you’ll always get value here.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath: More love for the classics from Uriah.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: Praetors are pseudo-Clerics, right?
Heliod, God of the Sun: Dude spits out additional Clerics, so it fits right into the theme, and it’s just a very solid card.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch: Especially valuable if that Caged Sun is online first, white Mike can save all your creatures if someone isn’t paying close enough attention to the combat math.
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant: It occurs to me that I should be playing Rune-Tail in my Ruhan deck. He’d provide a great deal of protection from my own stuff (like Repercussion, Lightmine Field, and Powerstone Minefield). To the card box!
Endless Horizons: At a certain point all you want to draw is gas. If you get an extra land in your hand as well each turn, then great.
Karmic Justice: I’ve long been a proponent of this card, especially when you have lots of noncreature permanents. Suddenly other guy’s Oblivion Stone isn’t looking so hot.
Land Tax: When you have Land Tax in your opener, you want to have scooped the die roll.
Leyline of Sanctity: I’ve had this in and out of my Karador deck because it, like True Believer, helps against Bojuka Bog and Tormod’s Crypt. I suspect that Uriah sees more things that target players than we do in my group.
Luminarch Ascension: In this deck, with all its prevention and redirection, the Angel-maker gets turned on quite easily.
Norn’s Annex: I’m on the fence about this if you’re choosing between it and Ghostly Prison. If you’re playing both, great. Solo, I think the Prison will serve you better and more often.
Oblivion Ring: This was a great card in Standard, but I see it suffering too much blowback in Commander due to the inevitability of board wipes.
Runed Halo: This is especially powerful against commanders that you can’t target, like Progenitus and Uril, the Miststalker.
Abeyance: A little cantripping, a little anti-combo tech. Fine card, especially if it’s under Isochron Scepter.
Beacon of Immortality: This used to be one of my staple cards in all white decks because it’s so easily splashable. I can’t really tell you why I don’t have it in any decks at the moment, but I think Uriah’s inspired me to change that.
Condemn: Some commanders need to get tucked. So does Avacyn.
Disenchant: Super old-school super classic. Style points.
Enlightened Tutor: There are many, many excellent things in the deck to fetch with Enlightened Tutor, and since there is a tool-box feel to the deck, it will be a bacon saver with some frequency.
Orim’s Chant: We live in a world where you need Fog effects. This is a great one so that you don’t get blown out by Flaring Pain.
Path to Exile: Another great card for other formats, I’m pretty ambivalent about it in this one. The inclusion of Isochron Scepter, however, makes it far more interesting.
Silence: You’re not allowed to play this card if you don’t announce it in a Stewie voice.
Swords to Plowshares: One-for-one is a minus; exile is a plus.
Gideon Jura: I suspect that using Gideon as a Fog is what happens most in this deck.
Akroma’s Vengeance: Blow up everything (except planeswalkers) when you need to; draw a card when you don’t.
Hallowed Burial: For one more mana I prefer Terminus, but that doesn’t take away from how good Hallowed Burial is in the era of indestructible and super-powerful commanders.
Idyllic Tutor: For the extra mana getting the card into your hand is worth it not being an instant.
Planar Cleansing: More board control.
Wrath of God: Sometimes creatures gotta get got.
I don’t think I’d make too many changes to the deck. I would want to find some room for Devout Lightcaster, especially with Erratic Portal. I’d also want to try to squeeze in Frontline Medic. Other than that I’d run it as is.
This is the kind of deck that I think the format loves. Different, interesting, and still good enough to keep up with the big boys, it seems to have strong playability and replayability. Thanks to Uriah for sharing it with us. I’ll concede that I may have been wrong about mono-white Cleric tribal.
I’ll think more about the "stuff you need" idea for the upcoming weeks. You can also look forward to a Thassa build and a rebuild of Adun Oakenshield.
Until then, keep Embracing the Chaos.
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